Directed by Martin Campbell ("Goldeneye").
Written by Caspian Tredwell-Owen.
Starring Angelina Jolie and Clive Owen.
Release Year: 2003
Review Date: 10/30/03
About 14 people across the nation saw this
film last weekend, and one of those suckers was me. It’s
interesting, with some of these larger film vehicles—I have been
going to the movies four or fives times a week for a month, but
didn’t see a single preview for “Beyond Borders”, just a bunch of
large billboards for the film all over town.
So, how does anyone expect this thing to
make any money? Unfortunately for the filmmakers, they have a good
film on their hands and I wonder if it will ever see a more
mainstream light of day. Angelina Jolie and Clive Owen star as aid
workers that meet first in Ethiopia in the mid-80s, then over the
next 20 years find their lives crossing over again and again on aid
projects in Cambodia and Chechnya, while also meeting up in London
(where the workers are originally from) on occasion as well. Is
there a romance there? It would be tough, with the Jolie character
having a husband and two children...and, with the Owen character
pretty tough to nail down since he is also illegally transporting
arms for a shady individual from Russia.
The strength of the film lies in two areas
for me—the chemistry between the two leads, and the amount of
insight I gained on the aid situation in Africa in the mid-80s. I
typically play the role of lazy don’t-give-a-shit gringo, so I often
find myself turning the channel whenever I see Sally Struthers on my
TV screen trying to convince me that I need to send just a dollar a
day to save some needy children. Director Martin Campbell (“Goldeneye”)
does a great job of keeping you hooked by sending us to Ethiopia
first to see just how rough it could be for an aid camp, even IF
that camp has some money regularly coming in. The Namibia sets
(standing in for Ethiopia) are harsh and desolate, and paint a great
picture of what it might be like to try and survive in the middle of
nowhere. When the film goes to Cambodia, things turn tragic for
members of the aid teams in the film...there is a stunning sequence
featuring a baby, a grenade, and some pissed-off Cambodian
soldiers. This scene is by far the money shot for the film.
I would imagine that for those that really
are on top of the world’s plight with hunger, health issues and
other things that third-world countries deal with on a day-to-day
basis, “Beyond Borders” is probably a preachy, preachy film—so much
so that it could be unwatchable. But, I was learning a thing or
two, so it held my interest. One thing that can’t be debated is the
film’s length—man, does this thing run on for a while. You know
that the two leads want to get together, so Campbell holds this bit
too long for those of us that just want the romance to come to some
sort of resolution. Also, the final leg of the film in Chechnya was
a bit far-fetched for me...it was fun to see how it would be
resolved, but the setup was just a bit too...well, “movie.”
This will be out of theaters by the end of
next week, for sure. But, I walked out of the theater quite happy
about the experience; this one might be quite different for you,
though, if I had to guess...
Rating: $9.50 Show
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard